Business

Thumbnail image for Let Them Eat Tips

Let Them Eat Tips

by Source 10.18.2014 Business

Marriott’s push to get guests to subsidize its crummy pay for the people who clean hotel rooms is a disgrace.
By Jim Hightower / Other Words

Just when you thought the plutocratic profiteers running America’s exploitative, low-wage economy couldn’t get any more clueless, self-serving, pious, and mingy — along comes Lady Maria of Marriott, magnanimously saying: “Let them eat tips.”

Marriott International supports the political notion that America is divided between a few noble “makers” (like them) and a mass of “takers” (you, me, and the rest of us). Its approximately 4,000 hotels in 78 countries and territories have more than 690,000 rooms and operate under 18 different brand names that range from plebeian chains like Fairfield Inn & Suites to the luxury Ritz-Carlton properties.

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Thumbnail image for Memo to Jerry Sanders & Doug Manchester: The City Council Minimum Wage Ordinance WAS the Compromise

Memo to Jerry Sanders & Doug Manchester: The City Council Minimum Wage Ordinance WAS the Compromise

by Doug Porter 10.17.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

It ain’t over ‘till it’s over.

The City Clerk certified the results of a referendum drive backed by the Chamber of Commerce and other dark money interests yesterday. They sought to delay an ordinance passed by the City Council increasing the local minimum wage and allowing for earned sick days by placing it on the June 2016 ballot.

They achieved their goal by perverting a system originally designed to protect the public from the undo influence of the Southern Pacific Railroad and other would-be oligarchs.  Hired guns from around the country were flown in and paid up to $12 per signature after other canvassers quit in droves, unable to face the public with the lies required of them to earn a living.

This was a matter of economic justice for nearly 200,000 San Diegans who would be impacted by this ordinance; for the working women who would see the wage gap shrink by 22%; for the 10,000 veterans working at or near minimum wage; and for the restaurant employees who are forced to choose between working while sick or paying the rent.

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Thumbnail image for Who Runs San Diego? The Lincoln Club’s Role in Our Shadow Government

Who Runs San Diego? The Lincoln Club’s Role in Our Shadow Government

by Jim Miller 10.17.2014 Business

By Jim Miller /  A Project of the Democratic Woman’s Club

In the last several installments of this series, we have focused on the interlocking network of moneyed interests who dominate San Diego’s media landscape in order to “manufacture consent” as well as the ways in which moneyed interests are able to feed at the public trough and/or manipulate local government to serve their interests.

Another key player in the effort to preserve the hegemony of San Diego’s shadow government that deserves attention is the Lincoln Club, a stealthy nexus of economic and political power. In essence, the Lincoln Club is a political entity bent on maintaining San Diego’s de facto private government led by the local power elite in perpetuity by any means necessary.

While most folks are familiar with the goals and retrograde agenda of the Republican Party U.S.A., the Lincoln Club (which does much of the local Right’s bidding come election time) is still relatively unknown outside of political circles.

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Thumbnail image for In Defense of Uncertainty in the Development Approval Process

In Defense of Uncertainty in the Development Approval Process

by At Large 10.17.2014 Business

By Murtaza H. Baxamusa, Ph.D., AICP / San Diego UrbDeZine

Nobody likes uncertainty.

Certainly not the developers of a billion dollar mixed-use project that encounters community opposition due to traffic impacts. Nor the public transportation agency that runs into fairy shrimp on the future route of a trolley line. Nor the city planners for multifamily housing around a transit station that face a revolt from their single-family neighbors.

Hence, there is a concerted effort by planners and policymakers locally and statewide, to reduce uncertainty in development project approvals. It takes the form of reducing discretion of public bodies, streamlining permit approvals through the use of specific plans and categorical exemptions, reforming the California Environmental Quality Act, and limiting opportunities for legal challenges to projects.

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How to Destroy Mission Valley

by Frank Gormlie 10.16.2014 Business

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

If you want to destroy Mission Valley, what’s coming down the development pipeline will surely do it for you. There are four massive residential and commercial projects and another giant handful of minor ones- all in various stages of blueprints, planning and construction – heading for this landmark river canyon. If all are built – the total impact would permanently damage Mission Valley to the point where the Valley that we now know would no longer be there.

Some old-timers believe Mission Valley was destroyed a long time ago, when it was a long, lush valley of dairy farms and agricultural fields. Then the hotels, resorts, golf courses and freeways came and Mission Valley lost its beauty, serenity, and its soul.

Ironically then, there’s also another group of “old-timers” – a special group – a group of Mission Valley landowning families – who have their own plans to develop and damage the Valley even further.

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Thumbnail image for The Secret of the San Diego Growth Machine: Another Case for Nancy Drew

The Secret of the San Diego Growth Machine: Another Case for Nancy Drew

by Norma Damashek 10.16.2014 Activism

By Norma Damashek

Albert Einstein searched for a unified theory that would unite the forces of nature (he had his eye on relativity and electromagnetism).

I, too, have been searching for a unified theory—albeit a more modest one—to unite the forces of nature (human, in this case) that make San Diego the chronically backwater/ amorphous/ uninspired/ tunnel-visioned/ closed-shop/ quasi-corrupt/ rigidly-manipulated/shady city it is.

Come join the search. Just follow the trail of clues, click on a sampling of news links about San Diego, and you’ll discover a unifying theme that even Einstein would find surprising.

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Thumbnail image for Massive Dumping of Fracking Wastewater into Aquifers Shows Big Oil’s Power in California

Massive Dumping of Fracking Wastewater into Aquifers Shows Big Oil’s Power in California

by At Large 10.15.2014 Business

By Dan Bacher

As the oil industry spent record amounts on lobbying in Sacramento and made record profits, documents obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity reveal that almost 3 billion gallons of oil industry wastewater were illegally dumped into Central California aquifers that supply drinking water and irrigation water for farms.

The Center said the wastewater entered the aquifers through at least nine injection disposal wells used by the oil industry to dispose of waste contaminated with fracking (hydraulic fracturing) fluids and other pollutants.

The documents also reveal that Central Valley Regional Water Quality Board testing found high levels of arsenic, thallium and nitrates, contaminants sometimes found in oil industry wastewater, in water-supply wells near these waste-disposal operations.

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Thumbnail image for The Co-Op Movement – Democratizing the Ownership of Wealth One Step at a Time

The Co-Op Movement – Democratizing the Ownership of Wealth One Step at a Time

by John Lawrence 10.14.2014 Business

By John Lawrence

It has finally dawned on the American consciousness that wealth is being concentrated among fewer and fewer people. In fact just 400 Americans own more wealth than the bottom 180 million taken together.

Thomas Piketty in his ground breaking book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, shows the dynamic behind this dramatic rise in wealth among the upper echelon of society while everyone else, in particular the middle class, is being left in the dust.

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. Labor saving devices and later computers and automation were supposed to create a virtually utopian society in which everyone could work less and have an ever increasing standard of living.

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Thumbnail image for Et Tu, Carl? The Politics of Personal Destruction in San Diego

Et Tu, Carl? The Politics of Personal Destruction in San Diego

by Doug Porter 10.13.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

Last week sexual harassment accusations against congressional candidate Carl DeMaio went national by way of stories in Politico.com and CNN. Today we’ll follow up on developments in this story over the weekend.

A Saturday morning fundraiser featuring house speaker John Boehner in Pacific Beach for the 52nd district GOP candidate was notable for the absence of local politicos and a handful of protesters waving “Dirty DeMaio” signs.

The irony of the counter demonstration, reminiscent of reaction in some quarters to our former mayor’s boorish behavior, was the presence of Jess Durfee.  Back in the days when Durfee headed up county Democrats it was he chose to disregard warnings about Filner from a delegation of party women.

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Thumbnail image for Lego Ends Shell Contract After Greenpeace ‘Save the Arctic’ Campaign

Lego Ends Shell Contract After Greenpeace ‘Save the Arctic’ Campaign

by Source 10.11.2014 Activism

By Nadia Prupis / Common Dreams

Lego announced on Thursday that it would not be renewing its marketing contract with Shell, after Greenpeace campaigned for several months for the Danish toy maker to end its decades-long partnership with the oil giant.

As part of its push to call on Lego to end the contract, Greenpeace created a video that depicted a pure, wholesome Arctic landscape, built from Legos, that slowly flooded with oil as various characters wept and drowned.

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Thumbnail image for Who Runs San Diego? Some Taxpayers Are More Equal Than Others at the County Taxpayers Association

Who Runs San Diego? Some Taxpayers Are More Equal Than Others at the County Taxpayers Association

by At Large 10.10.2014 Business

The Nerd, the Negotiator, the Pretender and its Protégé

By Linda Perine / Democratic Woman’s Club

This week’s article is a little more complex than some of our previous looks at Who Runs San Diego?.  When David (Cory Briggs) slays Goliath (Hoteliers Financing District) – that’s a good story!  When some (Sea World and certain electeds) tell us it’s OK to imprison and mistreat our sweet Shamu,  LOTS of folk get mad.  When our CD2/lifeguard good guy (Ed Harris) takes on tenants (Belmont Park) that seem a little moochy,  you can pump your fist.

My job this week, yes, I am the aforementioned “Nerd”, is to go behind the curtain of these and other deals involving our beaches, bays, parks, taxing authority and other civic assets to take a look at an organization that pretends to work for all taxpayers, but in reality represents its well- connected, conservative  donors.

By now it should be crystal clear that the regular folk of San Diego need someone tough and savvy to look out for us:  To stand up to the bigwigs, to call their bluff;  to fight for the greater good and get us the better part of the bargain.  We need a champion to make sure the taxpayer, not Papa Doug or the downtown elite, the affluent and the connected, get to skim the cream off the top.  After all – those bays and parks and waterfronts and beaches and taxing authority belong to us.

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Thumbnail image for Prop 48: Are Casinos Coming to Your Neighborhood?

Prop 48: Are Casinos Coming to Your Neighborhood?

by Doug Porter 10.10.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

It’s funny how people who normally couldn’t be bothered to pick up a gum wrapper off the sidewalk will become environmental activists when it suits their economic interests. In this instance we have “environmental concerns” being voiced by groups who are themselves exempt from the laws.

With Prop 48 we also have people who have worked hard to give the gambling industry a better image funding ads telling people to be afraid about casinos built in their neighborhood.

California, land of opportunity, where there’s a sucker born every minute.

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Thumbnail image for Escondido’s Proposition H – Compromise or Capitulation on Developing a Bankrupt Golf Course?

Escondido’s Proposition H – Compromise or Capitulation on Developing a Bankrupt Golf Course?

by Doug Porter 10.08.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

The email seemed like the basis for a slam-dunk story. It was an appeal to environmentalists for support in defeating Escondido’s Proposition H, a developer-sponsored initiative allowing conversion of what was previously a golf course into 430 single housing units.

Here’s a snippet from the appeal: “The developer, Michael Schlesinger, dumped raw chicken manure on the property a year after turning off the water. The manure burned the land and created a severe air pollution issue, forcing one homeowner suffering from lung cancer to evacuate his home for 5 days.”

I’d seen a bunch of emails in recent weeks from the pro-Proposition H folks and given that they were coming from a source generally known to work the right side of the aisle and the fact this was about Escondido, I assumed the worst– a cartoonish Papa Manchester character running roughshod over an oppressed community.

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Thumbnail image for California Just Passed a Plastic Bag Ban. Here’s What You Need to Know.

California Just Passed a Plastic Bag Ban. Here’s What You Need to Know.

by Source 10.04.2014 Business

The move is sure to reduce litter—but not necessarily planet-warming emissions.

By Katie Rose Quandt / Mother Jones

Update, September 30, 2014: On Tuesday, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB270 into law, making California the first state to ban single-use plastic bags. The law is set to begin going into effect in July 2015.

Last month, California became the first state to pass a bill banning the ubiquitous disposable plastic bag. If signed into law, the measure will prohibit grocery and retail stores from providing single-use plastic bags and require them to charge at least 10 cents for paper bags, compostable bags, and reusable plastic bags. The bill, introduced by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles), will also provide funding for California-based plastic bag companies to develop sturdier, reusable options.

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Thumbnail image for Who Runs San Diego? The City’s Dubious Partnership with Sea World

Who Runs San Diego? The City’s Dubious Partnership with Sea World

by At Large 10.03.2014 Business

Well, this is a fine kettle of fish…

By Linda Perine / Democratic Woman’s Club

San Diego taxpayers find ourselves as mainly unwitting, possibly unwilling and almost certainly under-compensated partners with a corporation in a Sea World of hurt.  From Wall Street to Austin City Limits, Washington to Sacramento, Hollywood to Lindberg Field, Sea World is under attack for its treatment of Orcas (that’s Shamu to you and me)

In July, 2013 the documentary Blackfish about the 2010 death of a Sea World trainer finally caught the public’s attention after decades of challenges to Cetacean captivity.  The 2009 Academy Award winning documentary The Cove also raised questions about the possibility that Sea World obtained dolphins from the horrific Taiji dolphin drive.

Sea World vehemently denied the assertions of both documentaries.  However, Sea World stock prices have been cut in half since the Blackfish premier.  Sea World is now the target of shareholder class action lawsuits involving at least 6 law firms specializing in securities fraud for initially denying that Blackfish negatively affected attendance and for misrepresentation about its treatment of Orcas in its prospectus when it went public in 2013.

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Thumbnail image for ‘Internet Safety Software’ Handed Out by San Diego County DA’s Office Might Not Be So Safe

‘Internet Safety Software’ Handed Out by San Diego County DA’s Office Might Not Be So Safe

by Doug Porter 10.01.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

San Diego’s County District Attorney has been distributing internet monitoring software that exposes users to the very predators, identity thieves, and bullies they claim the program protects children against, according to a story by Dave Maass posted at the Electronic Frontier Foundation Deeplinks Blog.

The free Computer Cop program featuring a photo of DA Bonnie Dumanis on the CD cover, “is actually just spyware, generally bought in bulk from a New York company that appears to do nothing but market this software to local government agencies,”according to Maass. His investigation found the program, usually branded with a department’s name,  is handed out by hundreds of law enforcement agencies around the country with the promise that using it constitutes a “first step” in protecting children online.

In addition to advocating for parents protect their children by using the software via the county website, DA Bonnie Dumanis also appears in promotional videos for the company. The EFF story also includes allegations that false endorsements from the ACLU and the Treasury Department were used in marketing materials for Computer Cop.

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Thumbnail image for Student Loan Debt: The Only Debt You Can’t Discharge in Bankruptcy

Student Loan Debt: The Only Debt You Can’t Discharge in Bankruptcy

by John Lawrence 09.30.2014 Business

John Lawrence

Today’s students are being crushed with John Bunyan’s proverbial burden on their backs – student loan debt. Until relatively recently this debt could have been discharged in bankruptcy.

Then all that changed when Sallie Mae, the Student Loan Marketing Association, was privatized in 2004. Albert Lord, the new CEO, and his lobbyists went to work to change the laws so that student loans could not be discharged in bankruptcy. Today the cumulative student loan debt is more than $1 trillion.

While a generation ago a high school diploma was considered sufficient for a decent middle class entry level job, today it’s a college diploma even if the job itself could be easily accomplished by a person with just a high school education.

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Thumbnail image for Gov. Brown’s Bill Signing Binge Brings Changes to California

Gov. Brown’s Bill Signing Binge Brings Changes to California

by Doug Porter 09.29.2014 Business

By Doug Porter 

Governor Jerry Brown’s been busy over the last few days, signing off on a variety of measures passed by the Legislature during its last session.

Legislation concerning sexual consent, subcontractor standards, the initiative process, degrees at community colleges and legal assistance for immigrant minors were all approved.

Today we’ll take a look at some of those new laws. The Governor vetoed additional funding for California colleges, along with a group of bills aiming to promote transparency in governance and provide greater disclosure in political campaigns.

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Thumbnail image for Welcome to the New Gilded Age: Ironworkers Seek Back Pay, Safe Working Conditions

Welcome to the New Gilded Age: Ironworkers Seek Back Pay, Safe Working Conditions

by Doug Porter 09.26.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Accompanied by Congressman Scott Peters, local labor leaders and clergy, a group of ironworkers held a press conference outside the offices of a Japanese-based developer yesterday at an office park north of University City, asking the company to lend an ear to their grievances.

It was an odd setting. The ironworkers weren’t union members, North American Sekisui House (NASH) wasn’t (directly) the employer they were complaining about, and the carefully manicured surroundings certainly were not a construction site.

This location was for now the end of a long road these mostly Latino workers have been following for over two years now, seeking back wages, safe working conditions and respect from California concrete reinforcing contractor Millennium Reinforcing. They followed the money up the contracting chain, ending up here appealing to the people putting up the money for development projects to consider the ethics of the companies they hire to build them.

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Thumbnail image for Who Runs San Diego? Deals Like the One Proposed for Belmont Park Amount to a War on Taxpayers

Who Runs San Diego? Deals Like the One Proposed for Belmont Park Amount to a War on Taxpayers

by At Large 09.26.2014 Business

Guest column by Councilmember Ed Harris

Recently, the City Council was asked to grant an extension to the lease at Belmont Park in Mission Beach. Pacifica, a local developer and current leaseholder of the park’s commercial buildings, wanted the Council to approve a deal that would extend its current lease to 55 years.  Pacifica has held the lease for two years.

After reviewing the proposed lease, I asked the Independent Budget Analyst (IBA) to determine whether it was consistent with best practices of other cities, and whether a longer-term lease would be in the City’s long-term economic interests.

The IBA concluded that the 50 year term of the proposed extension is longer than the average municipal ground lease, and that its rental rates seemed lower than the percentage-rent average of comparable municipal leases in other California cities.

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Thumbnail image for Why Do Lawmakers Like Darrell Issa Want to Enable Illegal Ponzi Schemes?

Why Do Lawmakers Like Darrell Issa Want to Enable Illegal Ponzi Schemes?

by At Large 09.26.2014 Business

By Liana Molina

Recently a group of lawmakers, including Representative Darrell Isa, launched an attack against a Justice Department program known as Operation Choke Point. They portray it as a crazed government effort to make banks withhold services from a variety of law-abiding businesses. Its true purpose, some of these critics assert, is to shut down the payday lending industry.

The reality is a little more nuanced. Operation Choke Point grew out of an inter-agency consumer protection group and their concerns about a new generation of fraudsters who profit by using their access to people’s bank accounts to make illegal withdrawals – again and again and again. The real targets of this program are a subset of banks and payment companies who enable this fraud when, in the Department’s words, they “knowingly facilitate consumer scams, or that willfully look the other way in processing fraudulent transactions.”

Mass-market fraud, directed at businesses as well as individuals, causes tens of billions of dollars in losses every year. A large share of that ill-gotten money comes out of the pockets of senior citizens and financially desperate people.

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Thumbnail image for Welcome to Endless War, Shock and Awe Style

Welcome to Endless War, Shock and Awe Style

by Doug Porter 09.24.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

 Haven’t we learned anything?

A bunch of terrorists funded by our so-called allies and birthed by the failure of previous attempts at military solutions in the middle east–have managed to get the attention of the nation’s war mongering set.

In a matter of weeks a group that our government can’t even figure what to call has gone from “freedom fighter” status to massing at the US border, poised to attack. Senator Lindsey Graham went on Fox news to warn the country “This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home.” Aren’t you terrified yet?

The major news media have obsessed with ISIS/ISIL/IS beheadings, even as they have ignored the savagery of the Shia militias in Iraq and the Sunni death machine in Saudi Arabia. Boom! Bang! Blood! Guts! Be Afraid! …Film at 11!

Congress is outraged, of course, but couldn’t be bothered to actually hold hearings, ask questions or give their opinion on the subject. They need their rest, y’know. Everybody “knew” the only solution would be bombs, it was just a matter of timing.

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Thumbnail image for Councilman Ed Harris: Why He Rejected the Proposed Lease for Belmont Park – “It’s Pathetic.”

Councilman Ed Harris: Why He Rejected the Proposed Lease for Belmont Park – “It’s Pathetic.”

by Frank Gormlie 09.24.2014 Business

Harris: “We can’t keep giving away our assets to big business.”

Just got off the phone with Councilman Ed Harris – he represents OB, Mission Beach and the rest of District 2, of course.

He had a lot to say about the Belmont Park lease that the City Council just rejected on Monday. He knew that we’d been covering the issue. Today, the U-T ran an article on the rejection, tacking in favor of the current managers, it seemed. Harris wanted to set the record straight.

Harris, you see, led a Council majority yesterday in rejecting the proposed new lease for Pacifica Enterprises because the cut the City is getting is not fair. All the Democrats followed his lead (Emerald was out) and are having the issue return to the Council in 60 days. The Republicans all voted to renew the current lease.

“We have to take in the big picture,” Harris told me. “We can’t keep giving away our assets to big business,” he said.

The deal that the City of San Diego has in the current lease for Belmont Park is not fair, he said in so many words.

“The City has received $1.6 Million dollars in 26 years – that’s only $5,000 a month,” he said. “It’s pathetic.”

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Thumbnail image for Kentucky Town Beats High Gas Prices—By Opening a Public Gas Station

Kentucky Town Beats High Gas Prices—By Opening a Public Gas Station

by Source 09.24.2014 Activism

By Thomas Hanna / Yes!

Earlier this month, the small city of Somerset, Kentucky, drew national attention when it opened a municipally owned and operated fuel center in an effort to drive down gas prices for local residents. As a result of its proximity to Lake Cumberland, a popular tourist destination, the city of 11,000 residents has long struggled with high fuel prices—especially during the summer months between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Under the leadership of Republican Mayor Eddie Girdler, the conservative-leaning city purchased a fuel storage facility for $200,000 and spent $75,000 building the infrastructure to distribute gasoline to the public—including the installation of 10 pumps. The city now purchases gas from a local supplier (Continental Refining Company) and uses city employees who rotate in from other departments to operate the station.

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Thumbnail image for What are We Feeding Fido, and Why?

What are We Feeding Fido, and Why?

by At Large 09.20.2014 Business

Food for Thought

By Sarah “Steve” Mosko / Boogie Green

My journey into the world of dog food ingredients began when my two-year-old mutts, Olive and Dexi, embarked on a hunger strike of sorts. They’d circle around their food bowls a foot away, sniffing all the while, only to walk away in protest before getting close enough to really get a good look. It felt as though they thought I might be trying to poison them, or at least pull a fast one of some sort.

I served what I thought were top-tier kibble and wet foods, never skimping on price and offering plenty of variety to avert boredom. I changed commercial foods numerous times, trying every ilk of so-called natural lines marketed as organic, grain-free and the like, yet still my offerings were snubbed. I’ll never know if they actually conspired to get my attention, but get my attention they did when they’d go two days without eating a bite, ostensibly giving in only when hunger forced them to.

I became convinced Olive and Dexi were rejecting the meals based on odor, inspiring my 3-part investigation into dog foods: first, to understand the canine sense of smell; second, to master commercial dog food labeling; and third, to discern what canine diet might really be best. I’ve concluded that the answer to the latter might not be as simple as one would wish.

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